I took my quest to Twitter where it got picked up by Lauren Cerand (if you are a writer, you seriously WANT her to be your publicist) and, naturally, took a life of its own. After a brief exchange with Lauren, I was able to find a whole lot of bags that not only satisfied my requirements but seemed to tell a story that went beyond the canvas. You can imagine my total surprise when a couple of days later I saw the following piece in The New York Times:
A Message on Every Arm
Tote Bags Replace Purses as Status Symbols
by Miranda Purves
Seemingly democratic and certainly affordable (if not free), the tote might be the ideal carryall for these post-luxury recessionary times. The tote’s status is stealth. It telegraphs not money but access, ethics, culture — encapsulating the idea psychologist Daniel Gilbert popularized that happiness grows more through experiences than purchases.
So, I thought, well... this is a sign. I *must* share at least some of the fabulous totes that I found!
This one is from Melville House and was recommended to me by Miss Bennett. It says "I would prefer not to" and has the publishing house logo on the bag. I love that it's literary + snarky! One of my favorite combos. $12.
This next one is a bit obvious. It's the current Paris Review tote (they get a new design each year). It gets mentioned in the NY Times piece and is one of my favorites but I do not love the size of the bag so I don't think I will actually be getting it. It's too big. I had to share it because I just watched Errol Morris's documentary Tabloid and the bag makes me think of it. Those of you who already saw the film should let me know if you got my little joke here. Plus, d'uh, I love The Paris Review. $20.
The last one that I am going to recommend is of interest to me for nostalgic reasons. It's the classic Penguin tote and I love it because it reminds me of high school in the early 1990s: learning English by reading classics, looking up words I didn't know and translating (poorly) in Bulgarian. For some reason, the only editions that were available in Bulgaria were Penguin's and every time I see those ugly-ass covers, my heart just skips a beat. They were such a big part of my grand escape! I love them. $19.95
All this research got me really excited about the concept of literary tourism. And that's perfect since this weekend Kyle and I are taking a trip to Oxford, Mississippi, courtesy of our sweet friends Kelly and Michael. We are planning on visiting Rowan Oak and spending some time at Square Books where, guess what, I can stock up on reading and get myself a TOTE!
If you have other recommendations, please share!